A public open house Wednesday on wind power projects drew extreme reactions from residents who can’t stand the sight or noise of them and farmers who welcome the opportunity to add some income to their struggling operations.
Waking up what had been a low-key meeting with some loudly voiced complaints, Amherstburg resident Mick MacCorquodale called wind power companies “sneaky bastards” who are quietly dividing neighbourhoods.
“I don’t want a 400-foot tower in my backyard,” MacCorquodale told Jones Consulting Group, the company leading a county planning study on wind and other alternative energy projects.
MacCorquodale, whose home is on Con. 6 in former Malden, said the wind power developers sign leases with non-disclosure clauses so that it’s difficult to find out for sure where they might locate. “My neighbours won’t talk to me,” he said.
Ray Duhamel of the Jones Group said the companies don’t have to disclose their preferred locations at this stage of the planning process. Typically, the leases have cancellation clauses if planning or other approvals aren’t obtained. “The companies are a tad secretive,” he noted.
Leamington cash crop farmer Jerry Paine is looking forward to the arrival of wind power and hopes to have a turbine on his property generating some income. With the province planning to phase out hydro production from coal, a clean energy source like wind should be welcomed, he said.
“I don’t want to see this studied to death,” said Lakeshore farmer Paul Courey. Most farmers in this area have been struggling for decades, and the extra income could make a difference to many, he said. Courey said Lakeshore has already updated its official plan to deal with wind energy. He hoped the county’s planning study wouldn’t hold up projects in his town.
Leamington Deputy Mayor Rob Schmidt said municipalities are mandated by the province to find ways to accommodate wind and other alternative energy projects.
“We’ll have to allow it, it’s just where they are going to go,” Schmidt said.
Based on average wind speeds, much of Essex County is suitable for wind power projects. The Jones Group is briefing county politicians today on the report, which suggests buffer zones and other methods for protecting residential areas, airports, tourist attractions, natural and heritage sites, trails, wine tours, bird migration routes and nesting areas.
A copy of the 191-page planning report on wind power can be viewed on the county’s website at www.countyofessex.on.ca.
By Gary Rennie
12 September 2007
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